BlackBerry Q5 review
|Review: July 2013|
In a nutshell: The BlackBerry Q5 combines a physical keyboard with the touchscreen power of BlackBerry 10, but is over-priced and under-powered and doesn't really meet the needs of most users.
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Flatter, squarer, cheaper
What do you get if you take a BlackBerry Q10, run it over with a lorry and then sell it off cheap? Answer - a Q5! No, no, we're kidding. It's really not that cheap at all.
The Q5 is a little less expensive than the Q10, but not a lot. It isn't really any smaller either, and despite looking really thin in the photo, it actually isn't. But it has a flatter, squarer shape, and is lighter. It also has a different style of keyboard. Instead of the Bold-style keyboard of the Q10, the Q5 has Curve-style individually-spaced keys. It still works, and it's a better bet than a virtual touchscreen keypad, but it isn't quite as good as the Q10's outstandingly-good keyboard and will slow down serious typists.
As well as downgrading the keyboard, BlackBerry has forgotten to add that luxury feel to the build of the Q5. It feels more like a cheap BlackBerry rip-off from China than the real deal.
The screen is the same size and resolution as the Q10, measuring a square 3.1 inches and with 720 x 720 pixels. It's touch-sensitive too, as required by the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The display is bright and has a high 329 ppi resolution (the same as the Retina display in the iPhone 5) and we have absolutely no complaints about it.
An LED light indicates missed calls.
The touchscreen BlackBerry 10.1 operating system powers this device, and is the same on the Q5 as previously seen in the Q10. Starting with the keyboard, you'll find a lot of clever stuff going on under the hood. A daunting number of keyboard shortcuts are available, plus features like Instant Actions, contextual auto-correction, next-word prediction, and a personalised learning engine that gets to know the way you type. It's a great typing system for the advanced user, but a steep learning curve for the novice.
Likewise, BlackBerry 10 tools like the Hub, which provides constant access to emails, texts, notifications, feeds, and calendar events, make the best of the relatively small screen area, and give the power user a feeling of command over the system. But again, new users will find themselves floundering until they have mastered the system. It's a far cry from the simple user friendliness of the iPhone.
When it comes to apps, there's a wealth of pre-installed tools including BlackBerry Hub, BBM, Contacts, Calendar, a new improved Browser, Documents To Go, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and BlackBerry Maps. Third party apps are thin on the ground however, when compared with iOS and Android.
As you might expect, the Q5 has less power than the flagship Q10. The processor is a dual-core Snapdragon S4 running at 1.2GHz, compared with the 1.5GHz of the Q10. It retains the generous 2GB of RAM of its older sibling, so it can run all the same apps, but it's noticeably slower.
8GB of flash memory is provided, which is half that of the Q10, but you can insert a microSD card to add an extra 32GB of storage.
The main camera has also been downgraded compared with the Q10. It just doesn't make the grade for a phone at this price point, even if it's a fairly low priority for typical BlackBerry business users. With a 5 megapixel sensor and poor low-light performance, it takes images that are typical of phones costing half as much.
A front-facing fixed-focus camera is available for Skype calls, with a 720p HD resolution.
The Q5 keeps all options open when it comes to connectivity, supporting quadband 4G LTE, quadband 3G HSPA and quadband 2G GSM frequencies.
It also supports Wi-Fi and can function as a mobile hotspot for other devices. Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 2.0 are available, as well as DLNA compatibility and NFC with support for Smart Tags.
We're pleased to report that there's been no compromise on battery power. The Q5 has a slightly larger battery even than than the Q10, at 2180mAh. This is the biggest battery ever used in a BlackBerry phone, and the result is that even the most demanding users should make it through a heavy day's use.
The design of the phone means that the battery is non-removable however.
This is the most affordable device so far with BlackBerry 10, although that's not saying a lot, as it's still very expensive for what you get. As a messaging device for the power user, it works well enough, but for the more casual user or general consumer, it doesn't really offer the bells and whistles or the user-friendliness of a standard touchscreen smartphone.
It effectively offers most of what the flagship BlackBerry Q10 delivers, at a slightly reduced price, in a less attractive form, and with most of the specs reduced. That doesn't feel like a winning formula, and it isn't going to give BlackBerry what it so desperately needs - an increased market share.
For the user, we'd recommend opting for the full package (the Q10) or waiting until the price of the Q5 drops significantly - at launch it costs close to £25/month on contract, but it feels like it would offer good value at around £15 - £20 per month.
BlackBerry Q5 features include:
- 5 megapixel camera with flash, autofocus, image stabilisation, and 5x digital zoom
- 1080p HD video recording
- Front camera: 2 megapixels with 720p HD video
- Display: Touchscreen, 720 x 720 pixels, 3.1 inches
- Media player
- Messaging: SMS, MMS, BBM, email
- Integrated hands-free speakerphone
- aGPS with BlackBerry Maps
- Memory: 8GB with support for microSD card (up to 32 GB), 2GB RAM
- Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, 3.5mm stereo headset port, DLNA, NFC
- Processor: Dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, 1.2 GHz
- Internet: Web browser, social media
- Size: 120 x 66 x 10.8 mm
- Weight: 120g
- 4G LTE (100/50 Mbps) 3, 7, 8, 20 (800/900/1800/2600 MHz) plus 3G HSPA, GPRS, EDGE
- Battery: 2180mAh
- Talktime: 12.5 hours
- Battery standby: 14 days
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BlackBerry Q5 user reviews
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Average rating from 2 reviews:
Reviewed by John Jones
on 27th Oct 2013
JJ from Wales
After a few problems with the baterry losing power, i finally have it up and running!! Only snag you have to update when prompted otherwise baterry power goes down and fails to charge! Would not recommend, stick to the curve or bold , much better!!
Reviewed by Tris
on 3rd Oct 2013
Bought this for my son after I got a Z10 for work. Not bad little phone and the keyboard is a joy to use. No need to go into bb10 but the hardware on the q5 does suffer some what. Its not that it's bad.... it's just very basic. build is ok but could be better. Its fast enough but suffers on apps because of the qwerty keyboard..... that's the trade you make!. for the price I feel the hardware could have been better. The biggest gripe is the lock button at the top. Fidley to use to say the least. On the plus side it's got a great battery, the keyboard is great and it has the biggest screen along with the q10. Great phone if you can get it for around 200.